Recently, Finding Home facilitated a series of dialogues with Mandarin-speaking grandparents who are also caregivers during the day for their grandchildren. The dialogues were hosted by Kitsilano Neighbourhood House and funded by New Horizons for Seniors Programs. During the dialogues the grandparents agreed that Mah-jong creates a sense of home for them. In China, they explained, everyone plays games together. If they could only have a place to play Mah-jong here in Canada, then they would finally feel at home.
The dialogue series consisted of three sessions. During the first session, we explored what home means, why it matters, what elements foster or erode a sense of belonging and what are their priority needs. The themes of the next two dialogues were customized around their top two priorities: Understanding Each Other and Creating Home in Canada. They shared stories and came up with innovative strategies.
At the end of the dialogue series, the grandparents shared how they were interested in learning how “Western seniors” live and solve similar issues. As a first step they have extended an invitation to non-Mandarin speaking seniors to learn how to play Mah-jong. Their dream is to have a place in their neighbourhood to play Mah-jong at anytime of the day.
One of the best ways to build welcoming and inclusive communities is to learn to play another culture’s most favourite games and teach your own. Through games, we can learn another language, increase our knowledge about another culture, make friends and have fun. When we can step into what creates a sense of home for others, we have an opportunity to discover a whole new world and ourselves in a new way.
Thanks to the United Way of the Lower Mainland for funding the first Finding Home seniors dialogues in 2007 and to New Horizons for Seniors Program for funding this Finding Home seniors dialogue series hosted by Kitsilano Neighbourhood House.